Disparities Linked to Differences in Brain Structures in U.S. Children

Study highlights how structural racism may affect brain development and psychiatric disease in Black and white children

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Black children in the United States are more likely to experience childhood adversity than white children, and these disparities are reflected in changes to regions of the brain linked to psychiatric disease like posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to new research reported by Harvard Medical School researchers at McLean Hospital.

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The findings, published in the February issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry, suggest that adversity may act as a toxic stressor to regions of the brain related to threat processing and that this exposure is disproportionately seen in Black children.

The authors added that their study provides additional evidence contradicting the pseudoscientific falsehood that there are inherent race-related differences found in the brain and instead emphasizes the role of adversity brought on by structural racism.